German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her stance that Europe must “take our fate into our own hands” following a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
Just a day after her Foreign Minister accused US President Donald Trump of “weakening the West,” Merkel stressed the importance of US-German relations while at the same time looking eastward for new opportunities by holding court with an Indian delegation in Berlin.
“The discussions with the USA are just as important as with other partners — the transatlantic relations is of incredible importance,” she said during a joint news conference with Modi.
“But what I said at this current point in time is that there are more reasons than there even were before to take our fate into our hands in Europe.”
Merkel also praised India for confirming it will comply with the Paris climate accords — a pledge Trump refused to commit to last week.
“When we talk about Paris climate agreement we are talking about supporting this actively, and I’m happy to see India is committed to the climate accord and implementing it intensively,” Merkel said.
Modi hailed Germany as a “reliable and trustworthy partner” for India, and said mankind had a duty to protect the environment for future generations.
“I think that it is our responsibility and we have no right to play with the future generation’s environment,” he told reporters. “If we play with the future of our next generation, it becomes a criminal act on our part.”
US-German tensions simmer
Tension between Berlin and Washington reached new levels Monday after German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel accused the Trump administration of standing “against the interests of the European Union.”
“Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk,” Gabriel said.
“The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union. The West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker.”
Gabriel’s comments came a day after Merkel had declared that Europe could no longer completely rely on traditional allies such as the US and Britain.
Speaking at a campaign event at a beer hall in Munich on Sunday, Merkel said: “The times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over.”
“I experienced that in the last a few days, and therefore I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands, of course in friendship with the United States and in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever it is possible, also with Russia and also with all the other countries.”
Trump to Germany: Pay up on NATO
On Tuesday, Trump hit back against Berlin with an early morning tweet: “We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change.”
Germany and other European nations were unimpressed with Trump’s performance at both the NATO and G7 summits last week. Trump refused to endorse NATO’s collective defense principle or the Paris climate agreement and described Germany as “very bad” on trade during his first trip abroad as President.
Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman, addressed the Chancellor’s campaign comments at a Monday news conference.
“The Chancellor’s words stand on their own,” Seibert said. “They were clear and comprehensible.”
“Those who have accompanied Chancellor Merkel journalistically for a long time know how important the German-American relations are. They are a pillar for our foreign and security policy and Germany will continue to work on strengthening those relationships.”